Russian Winter, by Daphne Kalotay, is a delicate, skillful examination of the human heart. Why do we do the things we do? How well do we know ourselves and the people we love? Is it ever too late to begin again?

Kalotay has gotten not only the emotion right, but also the history and geography. The language and details, like the gems at the center of the story, capture moments for the reader to hold up to the light, turning them this way and that.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and often found myself sitting in the parked car, transfixed, unable to tear myself away from the story to go inside. Kathleen Gati’s narration is wonderful, bringing the various characters vividly to life and guiding the listener gracefully between the novel’s two settings: modern-day Boston, and Stalinist Moscow.

Russian Winter is the perfect companion for the season’s cold, a jewel to treasure.